Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District


Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District
Dmitry Shostakovich

Duration:  2 hours 40 minutes (with two intermissions)

Stage Director – Dmitry Bertman
Music Director – Vladimir Ponkin
Set and Costume Designers – Igor Nezhny and Tatiana Tulubieva

Premiere  –  28.01.2000

Language of performance –  Russian

Love and suffering, greed and despair, treachery and fear... Passions run high in the music of Shostakovich. The show creators address such eternal issues as the right to give and to take lives for the sake of some purpose. 
One of the best operas of the XX century, staged by Dmitry Bertman, represents not only the cruelty of the time when Leskov’s characters lived. Today this story seems as modern as 150 years ago. 
This Helikon's production has won four "The Golden Mask" awards in different nominations. It was highly appreciated by more than 25 million viewers in Russia, France, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Israel, and South Korea. "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" had an immense success at the theater of Dante Alighieri during the Ravenna festival of Cristina and Riccardo Muti. The show of Bertman was presented in the famous Teatro Comunale di Bologna in Italy. It was also admired by the audience in the Municipal Theatre of São Paulo, one of the most prominent and beautiful theatres in South America. 
Helikon’s "Lady Macbeth" blows up with its energy every time like it is a premiere. "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District" in a brilliant production of Dmitry Bertman allows you to understand why an opera of 1934 about a provincial housewife could be so popular before it was abruptly silenced," reports „Financial Times“. 
The world in which the characters live, suffer and die inevitably involves and fascinates, makes you empathize and shudder… 
In its time "Lady Macbeth" caused a sensation with a daring production, and now the performance produces the same effect. 


Act 1

Catherina Lvovna, the wife of a rich merchant Zinoviy Borisovich Izmaylov, has been weary of boredom and loneliness. Her father-in-low Boris Timofeevich also hassles her, because she can’t produce a hair having being married for about five years. Zinoviy Borisovich takes a new laborer Sergey and is going to leave for his job. Boris Timofeevich makes Catherina and the laborers say farewell to the host, weeping and swearing commitment. 

Everybody breaks up. Kitchen maid Aksinya tells Catherina of a new laborer Sergey: “He can seduce any woman”. In the absence of the host the servants are having fun with Aksinya. As Catherine appears among them Sergey jauntily offers her to try strength against him. Suddenly Boris Timofeevich appears, sends everybody to do their job and ramps Catherine about telling everything to her husband. 

Catherine languishes in her bedroom. But suddenly her loneliness is disturbed by Sergey, who has come under the pretense of asking her a book and starts a talk on a tearful female fate. Catherine asks him to leave, but Sergey embraces her with passion. Boris Timofeevich can’t sleep, as he sees thieves in each corner. He remembers his youth as he walked under the windows of the other’s wives and sometimes climbed into the windows. Having decided to do as he did in his young days and to climb into the window of his daughter-in-law, he suddenly sees Sergey climbing out of her window. Boris Timofeevich catches him, gathers the people, and beats him before maddened Catherina. But Sergey utters no sound. Tired of the execution Boris Timofeevich locks him in a pantry and asks Catherine to serve him some food. But Catherine poisons his food and as the oldster falls in his agony, she takes the pantry keys. To the coming priest Catherine explains that he has eaten some unknown mushrooms last night, which might have been poisonous... Sergey is depressed by the near arrival of Zinovy Borisovich: he doesn’t want to be a secret lover of Catherine. Catherine calms him down, but feels anxiety and sees the ghost of Boris Timofeevich, cursing her. There are hardly audible steps behind the door: the husband has returned. Catherine hides her lover and slowly unlocks the door. Zinovy Borisovich speaks to her gibingly, but having noticed a male’s belt he strikes her out. Having heard the Catherine’s cry Sergey appears and they both choke Zinovy Borisovich to death, and hide his body in the cellar. 

Act 2
There is a scene of marriage of Catherine and Sergey. A sloppy winebibber has been walking around the cellar for a long time. After the newly married have gone to church, he breaks the cellar’s lock, sees the corpse and runs to the police horror-stricken. 

The police are massing about moodily. The quarter policeman is offended that he hasn’t been invited to the marriage. The police officer brings a negativist, who is doubtful about God’s existence; he’s discovered, that not only a human can have a soul, but also a frog, while its soul is “small and mortal”.

The sloppy winebibber, trembling in fear, tells about the corpse in the Izmaylova’s cellar. There is a sudden excitement among the policemen and they go to Izmaylova.

The marriage feast is going on. Half-drunk guests with the priest on the top bless the newly married. Suddenly Catherine notices the cellar lock has been broken. Having realized that their crime has been revealed, she decides to run away with Sergey. But at the same time the police are knocking at the gate. Catherine herself puts out her hands and the police tie them. Sergey tries to escape with the money, but fails. The newly married are being brought to the prison. 

Act 3
The imprisonment at hard labor has become Catherine’s destiny instead of a wealthy house, though she is more depressed by the separation from Sergey. Catherine asks the warder to see him, but Sergey chucks her out, blaming her for bringing him to imprisonment. And Sergey steals to a young prisoner Sonetka. He woos her and she demands new stockings for it. Deceiving and tricking Sergey takes the Catherine’s stockings and gives them to Sonetka. The prisoners laugh at Catherine’s feelings and play her up. The ward quiets them, but the life has stopped for Catherine. 

The prisoners are about to go to their hard labor. Catherine slowly approaches Sonetka, standing on the footbridge and suddenly, having shoved her into the water, dives behind her. The river flow takes the both away. 


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